Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Roasting Chestnuts


Chestnuts roasting on an open fire... I don't know about you but I never really thought about the words to that famous Christmas carole until my hubby's family introduced me to this awesome nut. There used to be a few chestnut trees at a local park. Each Fall I would head over and pick up the nuts from their prickly coverings. Sadly those trees were chopped down a couple of years ago. Luckily Frank the farmer has some trees and has shared his bounty with us. We've never roasted chesnuts over an open fire but do roast them in the oven. It's a bit labor intensive at times to get the nuts out as the skin can sometimes stick, but it is well worth the effort!
 
 
Start by scoring an "X" on the outer shell.
 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the outer shell starts to peel away.

 
Allow to cool or you will burn your fingers. These little guys really retain the heat! Once cool, remove the outer shell and the inner papery skin.  The inner papery skin is what sometimes sticks and is a pain to get off. When you get a perfectly peeled nut, it is a great accomplishment (at least for me).
 

Usually they break a part a bit but they still taste great! Sweet, soft and like the Fall.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Art Project #4


For my last art project I wanted to do a little cartoon for the kiddos bathroom. My friend Amanda's dad got me this hilarious t-shirt from a coffee shop in Corvallis. Being originally from there, I instantly loved the word play about a dinosaur from Corvallis and the location "Corvallis, OR, US".


I decided to do something similar for my 4th art project. I Googled some dinosaur cartoons and attempted to draw something recognizable as a dinosaur and put him in an Oregon State t-shirt.

 
It isn't fine art by any means but fits the kids' bathroom perfectly!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thank you.


Two simple words. Thank you. So easy to say but not said often enough.

Thank you cards are something that we didn't do growing up but something I have come to appreciate as an adult. My friend Holly is the queen of thank you cards. She writes them for everything and somehow makes them personal and touching without getting sachrine.


When I get a thank you card that I know took effort and thought, it means so much. I am working on my thank you card writing skills but have also come to appreciate the beauty of some store bought thank you cards.

 
These are a couple my Auntie Bonnie gave me. Aren't they cute?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cookies



We have a large amount of left over Halloween candy so I've taken to baking with it. We've chopped up Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and put them on top of cupcakes, substituted chopped up Snickers for chocolate chips in cookies, and put mints into brownies. I found this Butterfinger Cookies recipe from My Baking Addiction blog and knew I had to make them.

I switched things up a little bit and added chopped Reece's Peanut Butter Cups too. I think my ratio was about 1 1/2 cups Butterfinger and 1/2 cup of Reece's. The cookies were soft and chewy and stayed moist for the entire week. We'll be making these again soon! 

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. white sugar
2/3 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 egg whites
1 1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 c. candy bars, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites and beat well. Beat in the peanut butter and the vanilla, mixing until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chopped candy bars.

Using a medium cookie scoop (about 1 ½ tablespoons) shape dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cookies from oven and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Art Project #3


For our third art project we decided to make our version of a Jackson Pollack painting. We stripped the kiddos down on one of the last warm days of the Summer and let them loose with paints and a large canvas. Afterward Jim and I took paint brushes and splattered away.


The kids loved it! They used brushes.


They used their hands.


And played with mixing colors.


It was messy and fun and a great piece of artwork in our kitchen. Though it did degenerate for Jim and Nate into a fight to paint each others bodies instead of the canvas. 


The best part is that I can tell who did what part of the painting. Gabby did the big smears.

 
Nate did the strong brush strokes.
 

Jim and I did the paint splatters.

When the painting dried (took several days due to some super thick paint) I sprayed it with a sealant as we did use kid safe water based paints. It is obviously a kiddo painting but it was so much fun to make looking at it is a great reminder of that messy day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Buttercream


When we visited my friend Amanda and her new baby in the hospital I brought cupcakes to celebrate. It was a birthday afterall and it is a cardinal rule that you have to have cake on a birthday. I made Funfetti cupcakes from a box but then made the frosting from scratch using this recipe and directions from Savory Sweet Life.

I made the buttercream a little softer than normal because I wanted a light and fluffy texture. I also added a few drops of pink food coloring to celebrate the new baby girl. I think it's the best buttercream frosting recipe that I have come across. It took less than 5 minutes to make and definitely beats frosting from a can!

Classic Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
3-4 c. confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/4 t. table salt
1 T. vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
 
Instructions:
 
Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Exhausted


Yesterday we visited our friends who just had the cutie pie baby I blogged about earlier. Nate and the older brother are the same age and ran and played and wore themselves out. It looks like they are ready for a nap, right?


I mentioned the word and they looked up at me and proceeded to jump onto the floor and run around like crazy.

Eating Artichokes


Gabby tried eating an artichoke last night.

 
At first she wrinkled her nose and looked at us like we were crazy.
 

Then she caught on to the whole thing and ate them like a pro.


Gabs has decided she is a fan of this thistle!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Babies


My good friend Amanda had a baby girl yesterday afternoon. They named her Arden. Isn't that a cute name? The baby is so sweet and tiny. Although I had my own little girl only 16 months ago, I forgot how tiny they start out.

Jim asked if holding Arden made me want to have another baby. It was funny, I did get a little twitch in the general direction of my uterus when I was holding her...though I think I am happy to be the mother of two!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Art Project #2

 
A couple of weeks ago I posted about my first art project. My 2nd art project was making fun flower balls for the Gabster's room. They turned out better than I could have hoped and added not just color but a bit of whimsy to her room.


To start off I went to our local Dollar Tree and bought a few arm loads of flowers. I think I ended up making 2 trips as I needed many more than I initially thought.


I had previously purchased 3 styrofoam balls (4", 5" and 6") from Michaels.


Start by pulling the heads of the flowers off of the stems and discard the stems (or use for another project).

 
Add a small bead of hot glue to the tip of the flower stem.
 
 
Quickly shove the stem into the flower ball before the glue hardens. Repeat until the styrofoam ball is completely covered and no styrofoam is visible.  
 

To hang the balls, many people use ribbon. I wanted them to look like they were floating so decided to use fishing line. I simply tied the fishing line to an eye-hook, added a bead of hot glue to the end of the eye-hook and inserted the hook into the flower ball. Tie the other end of the fishing line to another eye-hook and anchor into the cieling.


They were a snap to make and much cheaper than purchasing them already made. We hung them a bit higher than I would have liked but as you can see our little dude tried to use them as punching bags as soon as they were hung!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Curls


Over the past few months Gabby's hair has been getting curly on the back of her head. Tight spirals and gentle waves. It is so cute but really hard to comb out. I'm told that it will most likely straighten as her hair grows longer but we're really enjoying those little curls right now!